27 Feb 2015

How to get on BGV – a case study with Andiamo

By Glen

It can be intimidating to look at a startup that’s a going concern and to think that your idea for a startup won’t ever make it to that point. We thought that during our current Call for Ideas we could talk about a few of our teams, either on the programme or alumni, and talk a little bit about where they were when they first came to us.

The upshot of this is that we’re happy to meet with teams who are thinking of applying. We make decent coffee and we like to talk to you about your ideas. Our promise is that we’ll listen and give you honest feedback – even if it’s what you might not want to hear.


We first met Samiya and Naveed Parvez fresh from a fortuitous set of circumstances – after a talk at Monki Gras (which Naveed almost skipped) and having accidentally sat down to dinner with James Governor, they realised that the tech was there to do what they needed. They both came to the 2013 BGV launch announcing our first Call for Ideas as a member of the Social Incubator Fund, explaining their start-up idea – to revolutionise children’s orthotics using 3D printing – some background here.

We immediately recognised that this was a group of people we wanted to work with – Sam and Naveed were intelligent, understood deeply the problems of being the person at the centre of a serious social problem – inefficiency and a lack of innovation. They didn’t know that much about orthosis or 3d printers, but they knew what was wrong with the current system, and they had an idea.

We work with early-stage start-ups, but they were a bit too early – we told them exactly what we thought – they needed a really good tech person on the team, and a bit more of an understanding of the market – who could pay, who would want to, what are the cost and market drivers, and, fundamentally, some idea of whether the tech was up to good. They had a kernel of an idea, but it needed some thinking, some maceration, and a bit more flesh on its bones.

They went away and they worked on it, while keeping their family together, for the next six months. They kept talking about their idea, refining their pitch and working on it. I had the pleasure of interviewing them in November of that year – and they’d come a long way in eight months. They’d done some good stuff, like winning some free desk space and deepened their relationships, but mostly they’d got a pretty good idea of what they were going to do – and, crucially, they knew what they didn’t know and they had found an excellent technical co-founder.

We were thrilled to bring them onto BGV for our W14 cohort – a year ago now, and since then they’ve created actual orthotics that are being used, run a successful crowdfunding campaign, are running another now, and received enough awards and partnerships to choke a start-up horse. They’re among the teams we’re proudest of supporting on BGV. We hope you’ll be the next ones.

It’s always a risk for us, meeting new people, particularly when they’ve got the kernel of a great idea but they just aren’t quite ready: they may need a technical co-founder, or they may need more evidence that their solution will work, or it might just need more time. They might go on another programme, choose to go it on their own, or decide to pack it in, and that’s almost always sad. It can be very special for us, though, when we see someone take feedback on board and develop their idea further over 6-12 months.

Have you got an idea to use tech to solve a social or environmental problem? Apply for BGV now – or come and talk to us – we’ll get you a cuppa and talk through your idea, and we’ll be honest with you. Drop us a line on hello@bethnalgreenventures.com if you fancy a chat.